Many people have heard the word “probate” or have seen the phrase “Elder Law” in various publications, but find that they do not understand what these really mean. Elder law began in the early 1980′s as an area of practice in the legal field, in recognition of the fact that our population is steadily aging—the population of those over 65 is expected to double in the next 25 years—and that the issues that older Americans face are sometimes different than those that younger generations face.
By 2030, almost one out of 5 Americans will be over 65. The age group of those 85 and older is the fastest growing segment of population. As the population ages, issues arise. For the senior citizen, the issue may be his or her own care, or the care of a spouse. For the children of senior citizens, the issues are often related to finding a balance between independence for their parents, ensuring that seniors are living in safe and healthy environments, and, ultimately, how to cover the costs of those living arrangements, whether living at home, in a retirement community, or in a facility with greater levels of care.
The first step towards ensuring that an optimal arrangement is reached is making sure that planning documents are in place. There are a number of potential documents which may or may not be needed, and consulting an elder law attorney can help individuals to narrow down which documents they already have, and which documents they still need.